According to the Occupational Safety and Health Agency, thousands of farm workers are injured and hundreds more die in farming accidents annually. The National Safety Council calls agriculture "the most hazardous industry in the nation."
While I fully realize citing an OSHA fact sheet probably won't gain me any friends – and I am not suggesting every activity on our farm would pass OSHA standards with flying colors – it goes without saying that farm safety is so important. While I know all farmers agree, a reminder never hurts.
We spend a lot of time teaching our kids farm safety, but when the fields dry out and the work needs done, let's be honest – farm safety isn't always the first thing on our minds.
According to the Indiana Rural Safety and Health Council, each year an estimated 1 out of every 9 Indiana farm families experiences an injury requiring medical attention, and between 20 and 25 members of farm families die as the result of farm work-related injuries.
High risk factors on farms include age, equipment and machinery, and protective equipment. Injury rates are highest among children age 15 and under and adults. Most farm accidents and fatalities involve machinery.
Proper machine guarding and doing equipment maintenance according to manufacturers' recommendations can help prevent accidents. Using protective equipment, such as seat belts on tractors, and personal protective equipment – such as safety gloves, coveralls, boots, hats, aprons, goggles and face shields – could significantly reduce farming injuries.
I truly believe the key is common sense. Know your surroundings and your abilities. Don't do things that you know are not safe, just to save a few minutes.
We all know safety is important and the impact that a farming accident has on a farm family and the community. We have all told someone else to be careful or made sure a farm kid was being safe, let's practice what we preach as we are working this spring.